Icelandic Art & design
From unmemorable times to the present day, Icelandic art has continued to evolve and impress through a unique approach to how symbols are represented. Whether you are looking for Icelandic art and design in a museum or in a music hall, you are bound to be impressed by the richness of the Icelandic art heritage. Self reliance and a millennia-old independent sprit can be noticed, sometimes in the most subtle of ways, in the art produced in this country. The Viking heritage that characterizes today’s Icelanders remains strong and creatively embedded in old and new art forms. One other aspect of Icelandic culture that differentiates this country from most European states and other Nordic countries is their language. People in Iceland are proud of their native language and, more than often, they will consider words, poems and stories to be some of the most representative cultural art forms for their country.
The Icelandic Sagas
Let’s go back in time and experience one of Iceland ’s most prevalent literature aspects: sagas. They were written between ca. 1100 AD and 1300 AD Icelandic, an interesting fact considering most other nations were using Latin as the main written language. While the fact whether the Icelandic sagas are pure fiction or if they have historical backgrounds is still shrouded in mystery, it is certain that these works of art are some of the most representative displays of Iceland ’s heritage. Heiðarvígasaga or The Saga of the Heath-Slayings is the oldest of the series, but the first manuscripts have been lost centuries ago, so the actual length is hard to determine. The Saga of Burnt Njal is another well-known Icelandic text and, fortunately, the original texts for this saga are well preserved on paper and velum.
Diversity in art and designs
Art galleries, universities, museums and cultural institutions are well respected in Iceland . Promoting the country’s unique heritage and evolving through modern times while keeping a strong and well balanced national style is a priority for modern Iceland . Traditional arts, such as sculpting and painting, are very popular and most educational institutions place great importance on offering their students adequate training and working spaces. One of the areas where Icelandic design is really starting to evolve is the hand made pieces market. Jewelry and crafts are starting to become appreciated on an international market, but most artists remain as non-commercial as possible, keeping the traditional heritage that makes their work original. The Vikings are often celebrated in Icelandic art work. Artifacts from the Viking era continue to inspire today’s Icelandic artists, who find an abundance of wealth and inspiration in the simple yet attractive designs of their ancestors.
Visual design and photography
Iceland is a beautiful country with sights that are worth capturing in a painting or photo. Many amateur and professional photographers have dedicated days, weeks or even months to capturing the most diverse and attractive sights from Iceland . Photos containing geological formations in Iceland , volcanoes, geothermal activity, waterfalls and glaciers can be found both online and in many of Iceland ’s art and photo galleries. Many unique works of art can be found in galleries and design boutiques.
There are several forms of modern art that are well developed in Iceland . Landscape paintings, for example, are a favorite theme for painters and tourists alike. Many visitors consider purchasing a painting of the country made by a local, because that work of art has a better way of displaying Iceland ’s natural beauty, as seen by one of its inhabitants. Goldsmiths in Iceland also proliferate and their finely crafted work is appreciated on a global scale. You will most likely run into large companies producing commercial gold and precious metal sculptures, but it is also interesting to see the work of family run businesses, such as the few goldsmith families that run small but unique galleries in Reykjavik . Iceland ’s historical heritage and the immortal mythological symbols are also themes for many crafts and art forms.
Architecture in Iceland
Going back in time with Viking Age turf farmhouses and journeying towards modern times through the iron-clad timber houses from the romantic era, Iceland displays a variety of architectural styles that blend in together in a perfectly balanced equilibrium. Classical buildings are often seen neighboring majestic stone houses, while many city centers have a futuristic style and theme. Modern Scandinavian art elements can be often noticed in the house architectural styles and many new buildings have a boxy and vividly colored design. The architectural styles in Iceland are evolving together with the Icelandic society, absorbing elements of modernism and mixing them, in a very spectacular and balanced way, with the rich traditional architectural heritage that characterizes Iceland .